Erica's Decadence con report

Hello everyone! In case anyone wonders how I managed to produce a con report so quickly, allow me to say that I had a long flight back...*Grin*

Here are my memories of Decadence, roughly in order of programme (if anyone else wants to add/correct/supplement/argue, feel free!).


After changing into my Renaissance dress for the opening ceremony - well, it *was* supposed to be a decadent convention! - things got off to a lively start with Brian Biddle. He did a very lively set, full of quick costume changes behind a screen. Highlights for me included two of my favourite songs of his, "It's my Party" - the sequel to Talis' "Death Danced at My Party" - and "Y.M.R.C.I.G.B.S.A." We then had a more lyrical set with Rika the Bardling (and assorted German helpers!) which opened with "Bonnie Yew Tree" (a song which I am determined to learn). Yooh and Kerstin did wonderful harmonies and instrumental help throughout the set, and if Kerstin really did have a sore throat, *I* couldn't tell. I particuarly enjoyed "Silver Dragon"; as ever, a spellbinding set.

After a moment of panic when we discovered that we were supposed to stop making loud noises at 11 (and realizing that Phoenix weren't even supposed to *start* until 10.30), we swapped them and the Filkotrash (one of the filk fund fundraisers whose philosophy seems to be "pay-us-money-so-we'll-stop-playing-this-horrible-stuff.")

Phoenix (Anne and Mike Whitaker, Annie and Tim Walker, and Phil and Lissa Allcock) were, well, LOUD. Was it me, or did they seem even louder than last year? After promising never to do "Black Powder and Alcohol" as an encore, they started their set with it instead. They also did my very favourite Before the Dawn Song ("War") as well as the ever popular "Bang Today (Ranger at Midnight)"; it was nice to have Bill Sutton join them for "Midnight at the Well", too. Their rendition of "Superman's Sex Life Boogie" was terrific, if somewhat scandalous. I can hardly wait to see the photos. *grin* (And here I thought Annie could wear anything more indecent than last year!) Anne and Annie both looked great, and the matching waistcoats for the band were a nice touch.

Obligatory plug: Buy the t-shirts! They're great. (No, I don't get a commission.)

Unfortunately, I needed a break after the Phoenix set - I get exhausted just *watching* them jump around on stage - so I missed the Filkotrash stuff. From the pictures, it looked like I missed a lot. I also missed the "Borrowed" concert/circle due to a) being mercilessly tickled by Phil and b) actually needing to get *some* sleep...


After managing to get up incredibly early ("What do you mean breakfast ends at 9?!") I was taking a shower during the workshops, but from what I hear Tim Walker's guitar workshop was great. The "History of Filk" panel also looked good, but I was busy spending money in the dealer's room at the time. (Anyone want to fill me in on what I missed?) Kate Soley-Barton did a nice mixture of a cappella and guitar songs, which actually ended early! (So we made her do an encore. *Grin*)

One thing I noticed about this con was that people seemed to be jamming all over the place: in the dealer's room, in the bar, in the lounge, by the registration was great!

I think the "New" concert was next, and there were a lot of great songs. Annie Walker did the haunting "Nu San Fillani", which is the type of song which makes me want to stop writing ose, as I cannot possibly say it better than that. Another song which fell into that category was Phil Allcock's "Anna". Phil is so known for writing parodies that I tend to forget that he can write sublimely beautiful serious songs as well. Don't you just hate people like that? Hearing Lawrence Dean was a treat as well - it's been far too long since I saw/heard him! The other song which sticks in my mind is Zander Nyrond's "Arden" - if there is a basis for that other than Zander's imagination, I would love to know it. I am undoubtedly doing many songs an injustice by not including them in this report, as well.

We then had the N'early Music consort, who did a number of nice arrangements of songs, as well as some extremely funny ones. (I loved their "Rehearsal Song"!) Mitch Burnside-Clapp did the first of his Guest of Honour slots, and had a mixture of Australian folk songs, Russion folk songs (sadly, none of the ones I knew) and filksongs. "Red Star, Rising" was particularly good.

After dinner, I did my set. I'm probably not really the best person to ask about how my set went. I enjoyed it, however, and from what people said afterwards, so did the audience. (Or y'all are very polite liars. *grin*) Being on immediately before Valerie Housden (our other Guest of Honour) meant that I had a large audience. Being after dinner meant that someon didn't arrive till part way through my set. (One bad point about the hotel was having to book for dinner - cons aren't usually organized enough not to run over, and people don't always know what time they'll be ready to eat.) My personal highlights included "Song for a Zander" (which was actually about Phil) and actually hitting all the notes in "Star Song" - I think my voice lessons must be paying off! Any feedback is greatly appreciated. (Yeah, yeah. Go on, make the obvious techie joke. See if I care.) My set also seems to have resulted in me becoming the designated ose expert - if you want to know if it's ose, ask me. *Grin*

The bad thing about being on right before Valerie is that I was completely exahusted for her set. The room was also very hot, so I mostly listened to her from outside the doors, but she sounded to be her usual fine self. Concerts are running together, but I seem to recall "Fanny Fowler" being sung as well as "Following in Valentina's Footsteps", although that may have been in her second set.

I had, fortunately, recovered in time to hear Patchwork (Chris Malme, Andy, GK, and Neil Chambers along with assorted people they dragged up). They were brilliant - it was nice to hear a band other than Phoenix. (Not that I don't like Phoenix, I just like bands!) "Suddenly Eeyore" was especially good; Minstrel's facial expressions were unforgettable. Recapping Minstrel's Guest of Honour concert at Obliter-8, they were joined by Talis Kimberley for a great rendition of "Sweet Delirium". They did a number of nice arrangements of songs I was used to hearing solo: "Child of Light" (GK's version, not Phil's!), "Forgotten Drams", and "Elektra's Song" stand out, probably bcause they're some of my favourites! I also recall them doing a song which Neil had written and not performed for something like 6 years, that was wonderfully well received; do you have any more songs in the closet, Neil? (And does anyone remember the name of the song?)

We then had the "Blue" (take that any way you like) concert/circle. Because things were running over, I missed the beginning of this due to pestering people to nominate songs for the British Filk Awards. However, after that was done and I'd made my lists and check to make sure songs were qualified (i.e. had been written since VIbraphone), I joined it. Highlights? "Sex and Chocolate", which was particuarly notable for Annie and Lissa flinging chocolate and underwear around - whose underwear *was* that, anyway? Bill Sutton and Mitch make a very amusing pair...Annie, Tim, Phil, Lawrence, Minstrel...well, everyone, really. Later Kathy Mar joined us, and the circle lasted until breakfast. Normally I don't go that long but, well, by the time it's 5 or 5.30 it seems close enough...besides, if I'm coming all this way, I want to squeeze every last bit of filk out I can. Survivors: Tim, Annie, Oliver Thornton, Mike Richards, Kathy, and Me. (Although Brian Biddle, Miki Dennis, and Phil and Lissa came very close. They're just slightly more sensible than we were!)


After 2 hours of sleep (almost) I finally got to hear Paul's infamous song and find out why people burst out into laughter every time they heard the word "definitely." It was worth getting up for...definitely.

Mike Whitaker had, unforunate, lost his voice (if you find it, please give it back), so his chording workshop had to be cancelled. Fortunately, as he is on the concom for next year, I'm sure he can do it then. This meant I only missed one of the workshops I wanted to go to due to sleeping (Zander's songwriting workshop), and anyone wants to give a report, I'd love to hear it.

The Instant Bands then performed what they'd rehearsed. We rather seriously underestimated the amount of interest there would be. We left time for 3 instant bands to rehearse, and told Roger Burton West (the coordinater) to split the interested people among 3 bands. ("Here, you get a kidney, and you get a leg, and...") This meant that each band had 8 people in it. Whoops. My instant band actually had 9, due to drafting Keris to play bass. Rika satisfied her urge to bash things - well, at least got to try it - and I got to sing in a band of sorts, something I love to do. (And rarely get the chance! *sniff*) By this point my throat was severly overworked and sore, so I think I actually sounded better in the rehearsals than in the concert, but who cares - it was fun! One of the other instant bands did a gorgeous arrangement of Zander's "Song for Amanda", and I remember enjoying the other songs, but my mind is a blank as to what they were.

After the bid meeting for the 11th UK Filkcon - hey, concom, want to post the official details? - it was time for Dan Who. This was brilliant. Keris did a great job as Stunt Talis/Skippy (How *did* you manage to sing soprano?) and Phil was born to be an evil genius. But then again, we all knew that. There were some very nice songs as well. Special thanks to Paul for organizing it - don't you dare ever try to do it again while you're on a concom, or your body will kill you! - and to Lissa for making growling noises for me, as my throat wasn't up to it.

The Filkfund auction was next, and I have no idea how it was as I had to count ballots...ugh. Although we'd originally only planned to give prizes for winners, three of the categories had winners who only won by one vote, so we gave runner up prizes as well. Of course, it wasn't until I had sorted out three of those that I rezlied I had left one out; one category had two runners-up. I was on my way to sort that out when I was viciously attacked by Phil and his cape. I think Spenser has the whole thing on video. I shudder to think of it. After I stopped roling around on the floor with Phil, I did sort those out in time to hear some more of Valerie and Mitch's other set. Highlights of that included "Write in C" (the musical version), a couple of T.J.'s songs, and "Lies" - between that and "Lullaby for a Weary World", there probably wasn't a dry eye in the house. I then was volunteered to assist Mitch in "I Won't Sing Any Bob Dylan" (I don't know the real title.) My only comment is that if he's going to be that way, then my American guest liaison is definitely off!

At the closing ceremonies we gave the guests their gifts: Valerie got a blue flame paperweight and Mitch got a glass ship in a bottle, which he has promised will go up in a rocket. I then got to give the British Filk Awards (oh, I did love this part), which are posted seperately. Let's just say that I wish I'd had a camera to get Phil's face when he won for best *Serious* song! We closed the con with Zander leading us all in "Sam's Song".

After disappearing for the committee meal, I returned to a lively circle. I recall Brian Biddle doing "Old Jim Kirk" with assistance from various people he picked to be the engineer, doctor, yeoman, security guard, etc. It went over so well that we came back and did the last verse over again with, uh, slightly changed words. After Brian saying "top that", Lawrence did a rousing version of "Last Apocalypso", which Zander followed with "The Old Ones." A great circle all around, no pun intended. I played "Heretic" at Lissa's request, and Phil got a familiar gleam in his eyes, so I gave him the words and a pencil. After singing "Gold Gypsy" - and pausing to hear Linda Melnick liven things up with a wonderfully wacky "Little Green Bug-Eyed Monsters" - he set to work. When it got back to me, he handed me the new-and-improved (?!) words to Heretic. What can I say? (Well, many things, among them: "You think you're going to lv through this?" and "Bloody brilliant.") I also recall Phoenix (unplugged) doing a song about *their* rehearsal problems which had us all in stitches. I had to leave around two to get some sleep, unfortunately.

The worst part about the convention in my eyes is that it ended. I don't know if I can make it back for next year, but I will certainly try. I love you all.


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